You’re not allowed to root for both the White Sox and the Cubs… But why?

This blog post has very little to do with politics. As a Chicagoan and a devout White Sox (as Obama is too (probably his only good quality)), I get very annoyed (and I am sure Cubs fan get annoyed too) with baseball “fans” claiming that they are both Sox and Cubs fans; and with the City Series starting up today, I thought that today was a great day to write a post about Chicago baseball:

We are told from the time we are children that we can be almost anything we wish in this great country of ours — except, of course, a real fan of both the White Sox and the Cubs.

North Korea will unite with South Korea before that is acceptable. Cheering both Chicago baseball teams simply isn’t done.

When it is; often but not exclusively by craven politicians, children too young to know any better and/or those who don’t truly care that much about either team; practically no one who does care believes the sincerity or depth of commitment.

You may object to this as a gross simplification.

You may say it is not true and that you are living proof.

There’s no need to call, write, post or tweet to say, “But I do sincerely cheer for both teams.”

Tell yourself anything you want. Your friends, relatives and colleagues know.

If the dual Sox-Cubs fan does in fact exist, it is baseball’s equivalent of Schrodinger’s cat, which offers the possibility of something being two opposite things simultaneously even when always seen by observers only as one or the other.

Do we really want to add quantum mechanics to the sabermetrics and analytics in baseball?

Didn’t think so.

Besides, the decided and distinct split between the fan bases predates even the Sox’s existence. It is by design.

What drew blood was when, after a year of minor-league ball in 1900, the White Stockings’ American League took on the Chicago Orphans’ National League as a rival major league.

Sometimes, particularly for a newcomer to the Chicago area not already aligned with a team, loyalty is a matter of individual choice. Other times first allegiance is passed down from generations, like one’s religious heritage.

Defy your parents if you wish, but acceptance of their choice is the path of least resistance while living under their roof, no matter what your friends and neighbors embrace.

As a teen, you may rebel; as an adult, you are free to be who you want to be. There are mixed marriages and families divided north and south that do just fine over time.

But the unwritten rules do not change, and somewhere between “Bat, flipping” and “Pitch, knockdown” you’ll find the one about choosing the Sox or Cubs and how embracing both is verboten.

We’re increasingly an open-minded society (which sometimes has negative consequences). Unfortunately, every other hard-and-fast rule and traditional allegiance in law, lifestyle and culture has been pulled apart or at least greatly loosened in recent years.

But Sox and Cubs? If you can’t pick one and one only, you must pick neither.

Intellectually, this admittedly makes no sense.

The two ballclubs meet no more than a half-dozen times in a 162-game regular season. They compete for different division titles, different playoff berths and different pennants.

Emotionally too there should be more than enough love within a single heart to go around and be shared for two teams that barely have enough historic success between them to adequately return the affection.

Too many disappointments to count over the years is merely one of many things the Cubs and Sox have in common, along with ballplayers such as Jose Quintana, Sammy Sosa, Steve Stone, Jeff Samardzija and Ron Santo.

But even if what unites the two teams is greater than what separates them, there’s a Mendoza line in the lakefront sand for fans that those on either side do not want crossed.

Fans of one team do not necessarily have to despise the other. Disinterest is also acceptable.

Some may refuse to set foot in the other team’s ballpark. But when one does, it is OK to rise (NOT cheer) when the home fans do against a neutral opponent, similar to how non-Catholics rise but remain in their pews when others in their row take communion.

A few (traitor) Cubs fans in 2005 were swept up in the Sox’s World Series championship, but they eventually wound up again in one camp or the other. Same for some of the (traitor) Sox fans who may have “justified” the siren call of the 2016 Cubs bandwagon (big emphasis on the bandwagon) fleet by saying they were simply in the habit of rooting against the Indians.

No one alive remembers choosing to root for the Sox or Cubs in an all-Chicago World Series. As Cubs fans will tell you, it was played almost 112 years ago in 1906. Sox fans will note their team won it in six games.

It is proof that anything is possible.

Were these two clubs somehow to meet in a World Series for a second time, perhaps anyone whose heart survives the shock will be so glad to be alive they won’t care who wins.

Rooting for both teams, however, is still likely to be seen as rooting for neither.


Without Trump, Pritzker and Emanuel Would be Lonely, Sad and a bit Lost

As a resident of Illinois, I’m also involved and interested in state politics. As I’ve said before, I usually do not write that much about state politics, I usually focus on the nation as a whole; this will be one of my last post about Illinois politics, unless something worth writing about occurs.

What would Illinois Democrats do without President Donald Trump?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and billionaire J.B. Pritzker — the choice of boss Democrats for governor — spend their time talking and talking and talking about Trump.

With J.B. and Rahm it’s Trump this and Trump that. And they speak in excited, fearful and outraged tones.

If we were living in Neanderthal times, Rahm and J.B. would gather us around the campfire, pointing their fingers into the darkness at some demon spirit, and smile, thinly, as we huddled close to them for protection.

But these are modern times. Politicians don’t tell stories around the campfire. They use media.

Still, where would they be without Trump?

They’d be devastated, lost and lonely and afraid without Trump, because Trump is his own gift to them.

Because without Trump, they might have to address what’s been going on in Chicago and Illinois — from blood constantly flowing in the city’s streets to corruption and chronically bad schools, and even those idiotic Pritzker mystery toilets.

If you were in their shoes, would you want to talk about City Hall’s failure to stop the bloody gang wars or the failure to effectively address black unemployment?

Would you like questions about whether you used union plumbers to rip out the toilets of a building next to your mansion, so the toilet-less home could be termed “uninhabitable” and you’d get a nice property tax break?

If you were Rahm and J.B., would you like to talk about Democratic Boss Mike Madigan and the game of chicken he’s playing with Illinois schoolchildren and suburban taxpayers?

Or the $500 million Chicago Public Schools just borrowed that will cost an additional $850 million in interest payments?

If you were Rahm or J.B., or most any Democrat running, would you want to talk about Boss Madigan?

And just what would Pritzker say, exactly? That he can’t wait to be elected governor to do Madigan’s bidding, like some eager-to-please billionaire Mr. Belvedere?

It’s likely they really don’t like Trump. It’s also possible that you can’t stand him either.

Or, perhaps you do like him. Or perhaps you like some of his policies — like the appointment of a conservative to the Supreme Court with the promise of more to come — but you loathe all that vulgar Fifth Avenue Hillbillies drama in the White House.

But if you are a true student of politics, you’ll put aside tribal feelings and realize that Trump’s presence in the White House, his stupid tweets, and the things he says and how he says them, all give nourishment to Illinois Democrats like Emanuel and Pritzker.

And lately they’ve been trying to tie him to Gov. Bruce Rauner, even though Rauner doesn’t much like Trump.

But the Trump outrage is an easy story to tell and write, too, even if we’re not huddled around a campfire, fearful of a demon in the dark.

It’s much easier than talking about what decades of Chicago Democratic rule have done to the city and the state.

“I’m proud to be part of the resistance,” Pritzker announced the other day, standing in front of Trump Tower, which is to Democrats what Stonehenge must have been to wizards with blue face paint back in the day.

“When I’m governor, we’re not going to be silent like Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker said. “Illinois will be a firewall against Donald Trump’s destructive and bigoted agenda.”

“He is his own worst enemy,” Emanuel said of Trump, reaching into his pouch to slap a dab of Trump on Rauner. “I actually don’t think it’s an accident — since people say, ‘Oh we need a businessman’ — they don’t understand politics, and we see it in our governor’s office.”

So what we really need are powerful Chicago Democrats who’ve spent decades running the city and the state into the ground?

Don’t we already have that?

What is obvious is that Rahm and Pritzker and the other Democrats are good at taking their shiny Trumpian rattle and shaking it, furiously.

They focus our attention on the demon, to distract us. But from what?

How about the more than 2,220 shooting victims in Chicago through Aug. 2, and the more than 410 homicides so far ths year, most of them coming in the bloody gang wars that City Hall has no answer for? And violent crimes on the CTA that remain unsolved?

And black unemployment? Why talk of that, when it’s much easier, at least politically, for Democrats, to embrace Latinos, including immigrants who are here illegally. That is why Emanuel has now become desperate, seeking re-election.

Black unemployment in Illinois is the highest in the nation. And the share of 20- to 24-year-old African-American men who are neither working nor in school is 43 percent, according to a report presented in January by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

President Barack Obama from Chicago — not Trump — was in power for eight years as many of those young men were jailed or shot down in the gang wars. And what was done?

And the Chicago Public Schools that didn’t prepare them for work has a long history of mismanagement, corruption and fiscal failure under the Democrats of Chicago.

But Emanuel and Pritzker don’t want the conversation to get awkward. So they control it, with helpers to shape the debate.

It’s so much easier to talk about Trump, isn’t it?